Kula Adventure Series - Meet Marie Vanderpool, Adventure Elopement Photographer
1. Who are you and what excites you the most in life?
I'm Marie Vanderpool. I get excited when I think of all the places I've yet to experience! I love exploration and I can't imagine a more fulfilling lifestyle than what I currently am living. A key reason I've chose to live in a van-the possibilities for adventure seem endless with your home with you wherever you go.
2. What does Leave No Trace mean to you? Why is it so important?
Leave no Trace is important as the millennial generation continues to explore the outdoors, my own generation has such a passion for outdoors, but not all have taken the time to understand how important respecting these places are. It's something I'm passionate about educating with kindness and gentleness. It's important so that the budding hiker and expert outdoor enthusiast has the chance to truly feel the magic of a place- a place that feels untouched and wild- it provides a level of intimacy with nature that is simply beautiful. Keeping our impact on wild places minimal gives us all the opportunity to experience magic in our seemingly normal lives.
3. As an photographer in the outdoor space, what drives you? What is the most rewarding thing about your job?
Nature is a true reflection of the abundance that is present in our universe- there's so many details to take in that add to a frame, like the texture of a field of wildflowers or evergreens. I love the Pacific Northwest, because of how alive everything truly is. I'm drawn and moved by the outdoors, but the Pacific Northwest is magical for me. As an adventure wedding/elopement photographer, I truly see myself as not only a photographer, but a guide as well. I want my clients to have an incredible and memorable experience deeper than them posed in wild places- I want them to deeply experience these places. I hope they watch the sun set or rise and I hope to capture the life in their eyes while exploring incredible hikes. Giving my clients experiences they'll remember for a lifetime and documentation of those experiences is the most rewarding part of my job- I just think of how those photos will be there for my clients in their happiest and even the saddest days.
4. If you could snap your fingers and live your absolutely perfect day, what would look like?
I would wake up in my wooden custom camper with a beautiful view, I'd drink a strong cup of black coffee as I watch the sunrise and then spend my day hiking or kayaking in the mountains or in the desert, with my husband Evan, I'm wearing pieces from my outdoor clothing line (this doesn't exist yet, but I have a few ideas). Every perfect day involves watching the sun rise and set. I'd end my evening curled up with a book that evokes philosophical thought. I imagine myself still capturing adventure elopements, in incredible and adventurous destinations like the North Cascades, Patagonia, and New Zealand.
5. 'Kula' means community. What does community look like and mean to you?
I LOVE that Kula means community- makes me love this incredible product so much more. Community is so important to me- for myself, it means acceptance, inclusivity, and love. When I think about my community, I think about all the people who have shown up for me without any expectations for anything in return, just to cheer me on and watch me thrive, it's incredibly special to me and something I want to continue to nurture and grow.
6. You and your husband recently embarked on vanlife - tell us about that adventure! What do you love the most about it?
Yes! I never thought I would love vanlife as much as I do. It has given me the ability to really focus on what's important in my life, getting rid of excess that doesn't bring me any fulfillment. Being able to explore the US with my husband, our pug - Ollie, and adventure as a daily possibility just feeds me with life and excitement. I appreciate things like showers and flushing toilets so much more than I did, which is such a simple luxury that most have, but it's such a beautiful experience when it's not at your fingertips. I love the possibilities for adventure every day and the fact I never forget anything at home anymore :)
7. You recently photographed an adventure elopement for two Sasquatches has has gained quite a bit of notoriety. Tell us about the inspiration for that project! What was the experience like?
Yes! It was probably one of the most fun days I've experienced as a photographer. The idea of Sasquatch was born in Yosemite when my husband and I renewed our vows, my father-in-law was talking about Yeti casually and I had this strong urge to google the history of "Sasquatch". The following day, I had a flash of inspiration come to me to reach out to my friend, Anastasia Allison - the world renowned LNT warrior/Kula Cloth inventor and I gave her the idea to have Sasquatch in a Kula Cloth marketing campaign. Then that bloomed to Anastasia mentioning I should have a Sasquatch Wedding, which then birthed the creation of the famous Sasquatch wedding. I love co-creating and that's definitely a perfect example.
I loved that entire experience. My face literally hurt and aged prematurely from basically smiling for a week straight. My favorite accomplishment from it, was it brought so many people joy- I get messages constantly about how that elopement made someone's day or how much they loved it. It was special to me and it's something I'll hold in my heart for years down the road.
8. Free space - this is where you get to write anything else that you are passionate about and want to share!
I'm super passionate about helping people and other photographers who may feel a little lost in their path or lacking focus. I'm co-hosting a workshop for photographers in March of 2019!